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Winner of a 2017 Pulitzer Prize, historian Heather Ann Thompson sheds new light on the infamous 1971 Attica Prison riot as one of the most important civil rights stories of the last century. Chronicling the horrific conditions that led to 1,300 prisoners taking over the upstate New York correctional facility and how the state violently retook the prison—killing thirty-nine men and severely wounding more than a hundred others—Blood in the Water also confronts the gruesome aftermath. From brutal retaliation against the prisoners, to corrupt investigations and cover-ups, and civil and criminal lawsuits, Thompson meticulously follows the ensuing forty-five-year fight for justice. In a conversation with Kelly Lytle Hernandez, a professor and director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Thompson discusses the impact of what this tragic historic moment can teach us about racial conflict, failures in mass incarceration, and police brutality in America today.

Heather Ann Thompson

Heather Ann Thompson is an award-winning historian at the University of Michigan. Her most recent book, Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy, won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, the Ridenhour Book Prize, and the J. Willard Hurst Prize. She is also the author of Whose Detroit?: Politics, Labor, and Race in a Modern American City and the editor of Speaking Out: Activism and Protest in the 1960s and 1970s. She served on a National Academy of Sciences blue-ribbon panel that studied the causes and consequences of mass incarceration in the United States and has given congressional staff briefings on the subject.


Kelly Lytle Hernandez

Professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez is the Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA and one of the nation’s leading experts on race, immigration, and mass incarceration. She is the author of the award-winning book, Migra! A History of the U.S. Border Patrol; and City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles. Currently, Professor Lytle Hernandez is the research lead for the Million Dollar Hoods project, which maps how much is spent on incarceration per neighborhood in Los Angeles County.


Reservation Policy for Free Programs:
As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at approximately 7 PM.

Standby Policy:
Standby numbers are distributed in person only one hour before the program, on a first-come, first-served, basis. There is no advance wait list for full programs. Standby patrons will be admitted subject to availability. Most programs will be available via podcast.

Book Signing Policy:
ALOUD is one of many free programs at the Los Angeles Public Library made possible by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most ALOUD author programs are followed by book signings. At least one copy of the author’s book must be purchased from The Library Store in order to participate in any post-program book signing, and you will be asked to show proof of purchase. Please be prepared to show your proof of purchase when you enter the book signing line. Proceeds support the Los Angeles Public Library.

Main Image: Attica Prison on September 10, 1971 (AP)


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the reservation policy for ALOUD?

    As most ALOUD at Central Library programs are free of charge, it is our policy to overbook. In the case of a FULL program your free reservation may not guarantee admission. We recommend arriving early. Space permitting, unclaimed reservations will be released to standby patrons at 7 PM.

  • Why do programs fill so quickly?

    ALOUD provides a unique experience for the public to engage with scholars, authors, and artists in the intimate 235-seat Mark Taper Auditorium. Library Foundation Members have the benefit of reserving for programs in advance of the public. Consider joining as a Member to receive this benefit, and check the website on an on-going basis for program availability. Be sure to subscribe to our email alerts, and visit our Media Archive for podcasts and other items from our recent programs.

  • Where does ALOUD take place?

    Unless otherwise noted, ALOUD programs are held at the downtown Central Library’s Mark Taper Auditorium.

  • Where should I park for ALOUD programs?

    We recommend taking public transportation. Parking for the Central Library is at the Westlawn Garage at 524 S. Flower Street. For more information, visit the Library’s website.

  • Should I purchase the author’s book in advance?

    We encourage you to purchase books from the Library Store. All proceeds benefit the Los Angeles Public Library. Books are made available for purchase when you reserve for a program online, and are also on sale at programs. In order to participate in the book signing, you must purchase at least one book from The Library Store. Members receive discounts on purchases.


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